ways to be happy

52 Ways to Be Happier – Part 3

This article is the continuation of part 2, of 52 Ways to Be Happier. I recommend that you read this article from the beginning.

Happiness Habit #8:  Have meaning in your life

Create meaning in your life by living a life where your happiness comes first. Make your happiness a priority instead of putting it on the back burner. Often times we forget ourselves in the grand scheme of things and choose instead to focus on the happiness of others around us as we place them on a pedestal. Place yourself on that pedestal and help others make their climb up to happiness rather than following behind everything and everyone else in your life. Be the instigator of your own happiness and be sure to remember that you are worth the time and the love to be able to be happy.

Surround yourself with positive people – both friends and family. After all, you are the company that you keep. The best friends we can make in this life are the ones whom we accept for whom they are and who in return love us back. Friends and family should want us to be who we are, and not hide any aspect of ourselves. Our happiness should matter to the people we choose to surround ourselves with and likewise, their happiness should be something that we want to help cultivate and increase in their lives.

We can build a positive environment around us where happiness flourishes with the help of a good base of friends and family. Find the people with whom you can be totally honest with, share your fears and accomplishments with and with whom you have a genuine desire to spend time with. Once we find these people in our lives, we will be rewarded with happiness. It is also important to remember that while you spend your life collecting close friends, and losing some inevitably, that you should honor and remember the love of your family as well. The people who raised you are a direct correlation to your happiness. Was your childhood filled with possibilities and opportunities for happiness or was breaking away from them what made your happiness possible in the first place?

You must remember to let go of negativity in your life and this includes any negative people. The naysayers, judgmental people and toxic friends should be cut from our lives. It is okay to practice minimalism when it comes to our friendships – the idea that more is better is not necessarily true when it comes to our friendships. This is not the idea presented within society where social media is the pinnacle of our social status. The more friends, likes and re-tweets we have the better we seem to the rest of the world. However, a Facebook, Instagram or Twitter filled with friends we barely know who help us feel validation with the click of a button, are meaningless. The friends who are important to us will be cultivated through genuine honesty, moments of bonding and shared experiences and not through social media only. It is true that it is better to have the best quality of friends, even if there are only a few in our lives, than it is to have many friends who are nothing more than “fair weather friends” who seem to only stick around when everything is going alright and not willing to stay when the going gets rough. When the going gets rough, the “fair weather friends” move on. Find the people who will weather the storms with you and not jump ship at the first signs of distress. You want the people who will stay on board with you. Sometimes it is only through moments of stress where we truly find out who are friends are and how devoted they are to our happiness and in turn how much we care about theirs.

An easy way to add meaning to your life is to help add meaning to someone else’s. Find a cause or activity that you love and devote some time to it. The more frequently you can devote your time to this cause, the happier you will become in the long run. Devote some time to helping a charitable organization based on how much time you can give to it – be it on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis. This is beneficial for those we help and for ourselves because we may be able to ignite a passion in our lives we did not know existed before this experience or group of people came into it.

Many people spend their lives wishing they knew what they were passionate about and wondering how they can live their passion and get paid for it. Start small: volunteer hours at an organization that identifies with your passion. For example, if you love animals, volunteer at an animal shelter. The sooner you can find your passion, your bliss and your calling in life the easier it is to have meaning in your life.

Help to create meaning in the lives of those that you care about. Now that you have surrounded yourself with the right people, the right hobbies and tools for happiness – make creating meaning a priority in an outward fashion. Rewarding experiences such as helping others helps us to build our own happiness. It is the clichéd expression that states that giving is far better than receiving and in this case it is just as beneficial to try and give meaning to others’ lives as it is to give to our own.

Happiness Habit #9: Have Positive Thoughts

Always seeing the silver lining is easier said than done but being able to see even one positive attribute in an otherwise negative situation is what sets happy people apart from others. Happiness habits center on just that – happiness. How can you be happy if you nitpick and harbor negative experiences?

Focus your outward emotions on being happy with not only smiling but by living them out. Smile when you’re happy but speak as if you are happy as well. There is no point in smiling through the day if you cannot speak positively about it as well.

Our positive thoughts will trick our minds into forgetting negative experiences that occurred in the past and even negative experiences that may have occurred only moments ago. For example, if you have a quarrel with a friend don’t spend the next few hours replaying the argument in full detail in your head, trying to think of what you would have said if you could have or what you wanted to say but did not. Have the argument, life is filled with them whether we want them or not, but then remember to step away and breathe. Relax and remember that the two of you are friends, and your friendship has survived up until this point. Try to focus on something else. Have positive thoughts even when it seems hard and especially when it seems impossible. A lot of people accomplish this with distractions. Distract yourself with things you really like. Make playlists with your favorite music for times when you are getting stressed out at work. Fill your phone or computer with pictures of great memories. Find ways to distract yourself from anything negative going on in your life. Push yourself towards positive thoughts and positive actions.

Negativity can ruin our positive mindset – our negative thoughts can be toxic and poisonous for our minds -creating an environment where positive thoughts fail to flourish. Don’t allow yourself the opportunity to shut out the positive in life, while your brain plays with worst case scenarios as you stress about work, romance or finances. The positive emotions we have, and even the ones we force or trick our minds into having can help us to see the possibilities in life. We can look inward in order to see a more positive outside world for us. Life is what you make it – look at it with as much positivity as you possibly can.

There are many ways to increase positive thoughts including but not limited to creating moments of self-reflection, escaping to a fictional world through reading or writing, spending time with like-minded people. Flex your creative muscles while you look to have positive thoughts. Don’t just focus on the immediate present in order to find positive thoughts or moments – remember the memories you had when you were happy. Surround yourself with the positive moments from your life with pictures, journals and memories from those times so that you can always be surrounded by the best moments of your life. Try to forget the negative, and if you cannot, try and trick your mind with the distractions of the past where you felt happier and more fulfilled. Your brain will automatically rummage through old memories instead of the negative now when you trigger this. Make your brain work for your happiness.

Happiness Habit #10: Don’t Let Others Define Who You Are as a Person

If you have created a positive environment for yourself, learn to smile and create a close circle of friends and family who encourage your self-growth and happiness because then you cannot be bothered by what others think of you. This goes along with having positive thoughts. Do not waste time wondering if others approve of your every action. If your circle of people supports you, they will understand the decisions you make and will not criticize you negatively for them. Don’t let others’ negative thoughts define who you are as a person. You are responsible for creating the image that people see – the version of yourself that you let the world see. Don’t give anybody the chance to define you without your consent. Always remember to not be afraid to be yourself – have a voice, speak your mind and let your personality be shown to others. If you are not afraid to be yourself, everyone is able to see the best parts of you and this does not leave room for false impressions of you. Not only can false impressions or false definitions of who you are come from perfect strangers, it can come from friends, acquaintances and family. Unless you are upfront and honest with everyone, you leave room for people to define who you are as a person. If people do not know what you stand for, it leaves room for them to make things up about you. They try to figure out what you stand for while you stand back and are afraid to give your opinion about things.

Happiness Habit #11: Laugh Often – at Yourself with Others

Learn to appreciate not only the happy moments but the joy that comes with them. Laughing is not only healthy for our minds and bodies, it makes us feel better. Laugh off mistakes, laugh with friends and family and laugh at the moments that are fleeting while you enjoy your life in the present.

Laughing, like smiling have many health benefits.

Happiness Habit #12: Keep a Gratitude Journal

Remember to be grateful for the good moments in life. Living in the now means also appreciating the present as well. A great way to inject your life with happiness, especially when you are unhappy, is to think of moments that brought joy to your life. Not only does keeping a gratitude journal help us to appreciate our happiness by memorializing it into writing, it helps us to create a place that we can go to in order to find happiness.

There is no black and white recipe for how to keep a gratitude journal. You create them the way you want to. Keep one daily for small moments that provided you with a smile on your face or on a weekly basis  to record the moments in life that brightened up your week, have it be completely in your own words or include quotes by others, pictures from your experiences or physical items such as ticket stubs from traveling or concerts. The recipe for a gratitude journal varies from person to person but the idea is universal – write down the things that make you happy and remember to be grateful for them as you write them down and later on down the line as you read them.

Write down the moments you love and the people who shared them with you. Write down the people and the places you are grateful for. Remember that like happiness, these moments can be fleeting and that is why it is important to keep a memory of them so we can go back to them again and again. These memories become valuable to us in moments of need. When we are not happy, what better way to become happy than to remember the times when we experienced joy and relive them?

Happiness Habit #13: Have Self Confidence

Like what you see in the mirror? Don’t create negative body images by critiquing yourself too much. If your weight is an issue, make a plan to exercise more and consume fewer calories. Living a healthy life is one way to easily help us build the self-confidence that we may be lacking. Eating healthy can improve our weight, our hair, skin and nails and help us to see a more positive image in the mirror. Challenge yourself to better yourself if you are not confident. Don’t stand in front of the mirror and pinch your muffin top for ten minutes before you go out, spend those ten minutes doing cardio workout and making better choices when it comes to your diet. The simple rule is that if you do not like something that you can easily change, make plans to try and improve it instead of staring at yourself in a defeated manner wishing that things would be different. Rarely are people 100% satisfied with their appearance. We all want to change something about ourselves but we need to learn to have self-confidence and to overcome anybody challenges we may face.

Learn to challenge yourself and overcome those challenges. If running two miles a day has become routine and easy – challenge yourself: train for a 5k, run further and faster until you become better and better. Increase your self-confidence with things you already know how to do and do not be afraid to try new things. Have the knowledge that everything starts on a small scale and eventually with time and dedication you will get better at everything. Continue to read part 4 of this article here.

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George Meszaros is the editor and co-founder of Success Harbor where entrepreneurs learn about building successful companies. Success Harbor is dedicated to document the entrepreneurial journey through interviews, original research, and unique content. George Meszaros is also co-founder of Webene, a web design and digital marketing agency.